Florida was the original anticipated high-point of the trip for me. The Harry Potter theme park, Disney, hot weather – this place has it all pretty much…
So Monday was a bunch of excitement when we arrived at Universal Islands of Adventures. So much excitement that after riding the Harry Potter Dragon Challenge rollercoasters twice, we totally forgot our ‘booked’ breakfast at The Three Broomsticks. Whoops.
IoA was pretty much everything I thought it would be. Walking under the Hogsmead sign and seeing the Hogwarts Express really felt like we had stepped onto the movie set. Everything was so realistic. So magical.
Riding the Dragon Challenge was the first thing we did once we got there, and I was sh*tting myself. Seriously. The only rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden was that old wooden one they had out at Wonderland Sydney. And that was when I was like 8 years old. The thought of going on a rollercoaster that goes upside down scared the pants off me, but I decided that this trip it was time to man-up and just try one or two. So I squealed a little bit, but got on the ride without too much fuss (none of the 5-minute crying session like there was when I bungee jumped…) And surprisingly I enjoyed it. I thought that I would spend all 45 seconds of the ride (or whatever short time it was) waiting for it to be over, but after that first jolt to the stomach, the nausea went away and I was soaring through the air. And I enjoyed it so much that as soon as we got off we got back on line to ride the other “dragon”.
So with my new-found love of rollercoasters, we headed over to ride the Hulk Coaster (which upon entering the park and seeing the big green track I swore I wasn’t going to ride), thus forgetting our breakfast reservations. Oh well. Luckily we’d grabbed a couple of pastries at the hotel before we left.
One silly mistake we made was dismissing the line for Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey when it was 30 minutes long (at 9:15am – 15 mins after the park opened) and saying we’d come back when it was shorter. Haha. Apparently that’s about as short as it gets, and so when we finally gave in and got on line, it was about 75 minutes long. But we waited, and the ride was AMAZING. It is insane to think that a bunch of people just sit around designing rides that make you feel like you are actually there. Definately the ride of the day! Unfortunately with the 75 minute line wait we didn’t ride it more than once, but it was amazing and we would have loved to.
We had lunch in The Three Broomsticks, which was fun. Kather had Butterbeer which was a kinda Butterscotch flavoured frozen thing (definately pay the extra $1.00 for the frozen kind if you get to go) with a creamy top. I had a little taste and it was YUMMY! Lunch was average theme-park food – Kath had the shepherds pie with salad and I had rottissere chicken (half a chicken, lol) with corn on the cob and potatoes. But the real winner was the strawberry & peanut butter icecream.YUM YUM!!
We managed to ride nearly every ride in the park, except for a couple that were too babyish, and one of the water rides that we didn’t want to visit early in the day, and when we decided to get on line at 6pm we discovered that it was the only ride in the park that they didn’t provide free lockers for your bags that you couldn’t take on the ride, and we decided that it was all too much hassle and left.
We did ride a couple of the water rides – we rode the Jurassic Park ride earlier in the day which was cool, and ends with a big drop down a ‘hill’ and a big splash down at the bottom where you get a bit wet. We were luckily pre-warned by a lady about riding the Popeye ride, so we left that until the end, and then rode 3 times in a row and got drenched from head to toe!
The Good: The Harry Potter “park”. AMAZING. Too good to be put it good, but this is the best we’ve got. And the Hulk Coaster. Especially the start where it launches you off at super speeds!
The Bad: The Harry Potter Hippogriff Rollercoaster. Sure, it’s a family-friendly coaster, but we waited in line for about 30 minutes for a 30-second ride that was pretty boring. Oh well. And no free lockers for the water ride that we couldn’t take bags on. Get your act together Universal!
The Ugly: The woman wearing the grey long sleeved shirt and tights with a purple shirt dress & scrunch socks. Eeee, my retinas are burning.
So today we headed for the other Universal Park, excited to ride more rollercoasters. We were dissapointed to find that the big rollercoaster was closed for “maintenance”. We saw the Shrek 4D movie first up, which was good, and then rode Jimmy Neutron.
Then we hit up the Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster which was cool because it was an indoor rollercoaster and pretty much in the dark, but also with cool effects like fire and spinning and going backwards! That was a lot of fun, but to be honest the rest of the park was a bit boring. We rode The Simpsons ride after a 35 minute wait (which was probably the longest it was all day) and that was the 2nd best ride in the park after Revenge of the Mummy. It was a cool simulated rollercoaster and done really well.
It was dissapointing to see the park pretty empty – obviously most of the crowds are being drawn into Islands of Adventures by Harry Potter. I still expected it to be a lot busier than it was. We got through most of the rides (which unfortunately there weren’t that many ‘adult’ rides – a lot of the stuff was aimed at little kids rather than a broad age range) and got out of there by 2:30pm.
After a little afternoon recharge we headed off to the Outlet Mall for a little retail therapy. Hello $20 sparkly purple Converse. We had an italian food dinner date (amazing pizza), walked, talked, shopped… and then headed back to the hotel (via Walgreens for a bunch of postcards, candy, drugs & a pint of Phish Food Ben & Jerrys…) to drop basically.
Fun times in Orlando. Tomorrow is our last “day” here – we’re heading down to Magic Kingdom to experience some of that Disney magic and see how many times we can ride Space Mountain – I’m aiming for at least 5!
Next stop after this is Phoenix where we will be for my 26th birthday on Friday, and seeing Colbie Callait that night.
Til next time xx